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Henderson County Genealogy
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Bounty Land

In May of 1812, Congress passed a law which set aside land in Illinois, Michigan, and Arkansas as "bounty land" - payment to volunteer soldiers of the War of 1812. Henderson County, then part of Warren County, was included in those bounty lands. Infobahn Outfitters presents a brief explanation and a map of The Military Tract in Illinois: Bounty Lands.

Soldiers were required to fill out applications to receive those bounty lands, and those applications can be full of genealogical material (not always, but usually). In some cases, the War of 1812 veteran claimed the bounty land and moved to Illinois; in many other cases, after the veteran claimed the land, he sold it to another person. A good resource for searching for the names of veterans, and the person who took possession of the land, is : War of 1812 Bounty Lands in Illinois, With an Introduction by JAMES D. WALKER, The National Archives. Indexed by LOWELL M. VOLKEL, Illinois State Archives. Published by: Heritage House, Rt. 1, Box 211, Thomson, Illinois 61285. This book may be available for interlibrary loan.

Another source for locating information is The Official Land Patents Site by the Bureau of Land Management. This site is searchable by surname, and if the land was received as bounty land, the name of the Regiment or unit in which the soldier served is usually listed on the patent. These patents can be viewed, downloaded, and printed, or you can request a copy from the BLM for a small fee.

Once you have the information from the land patent, you can request the bounty land file from The National Arhives and Records Administration (NARA). To request the file, you must send a Form 80. To request a Form 80 be sent to you, you may Email NARA with the FORM NUMBER(S), the QUANITY needed (a maximum of 6), and YOUR POSTAL MAILING ADDRESS included in your email, and they will mail them to you. The cost and where to apply for information is included on the form.


Bounty Lands Applications must be requested on a Form 80, although OTHER LAND RECORDS are requested on a Form 84.

If the type of land sale says "CASH", the copy of the patent is ALL YOU GET. You can still send the Form 84, and NARA will send you, for a minimum price of $10.00, a copy of the receipt signed by a clerk in some land office proving that your ancestor did, in fact, pay for the land. (Does this sound like the voice of experience speaking?).

Other types of files, especially the HOMESTEAD and BOUNTY LAND application files usually, but NOT ALWAYS, include much more interesting information, such as places and dates of birth, marriage and children's births; parents; military service; etc.

To learn more about the history and battles of the War of 1812, I suggest visiting Galafilm War of 1812 or History Central's War of 1812 Site.

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Copyright 2006 by Connie Lovitt Bates

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